One of the benefits of schooling the kids at home is the time we have for being with friends and family. It's so ironic to me that the single biggest concern people have about h/schoolers is that our children don't get 'socialized' enough (whatever that means), when the reality is that we have lots of opportunity during our days to make and keep and build connections. The harder part is finding time for learning of the more academic type!
When we get together with friends, it's usually for hours at a time, and usually over a shared meal. We do things potluck style and without a specific plan - so if there are two plates of fruit, or three of veggies, or only baskets of desserts - well, we'll eat whatever's there and enjoy it.
Today, friends are coming over and I am smiling with the anticipation of it. The same thing happened last week when friends came over, and the week before when it was us visiting another family's home. You get the idea.
These kinds of days are rich in meaning. They are opportunities for moms to connect over a cup (or four) of tea to deepen friendships and share burdens. They are opportunities to share ideas, mull over philosophical questions, and build each other up. They are opportunities to simply talk with other women who, despite differences in beliefs and opinions, walk similar paths.
It's meaningful for the kids, too. They love being with their friends, they love being able to eat whenever they want to because there's always food laid out on our days with friends, and they love the freedom and relaxation that comes with having hours at a time to be with people they truly care about. At a bigger picture level, it's also awesome for them to be able to work through issues as they come up, with the help of their parents.
It's taken time to develop this kind of network, and it certainly wasn't this way during the first year, or even two, that we schooled (then only) Matthew at home. It took time and persistence, and a lot of belief/hope that some day we would experience a greater sense of community. It took a little courage, too, because it's not always easy to be the initiator of a friendship or two or ten. Homeschoolers tend to be rather fragmented - lots of pockets of us here and there and everywhere, and not terribly organized as a whole group. But over time, and after attending lots of events and field trips and programs, faces begin to look familiar, a few shared memories are developed, and then there comes a day when it's just so lovely to see that person again that you make plans to get together in someone's home or in a park...and so it begins.
So much the opposite of what people imagine h/schoolers to be like, we love our simple get togethers with friends, and our extended, sometimes-lazy hours together.
Which brings us back to this morning.
With bread rising in anticipation and a pot of soup simmering on the stove-top, the fragrance of friendship drifts about the house in readiness. Time to prep the tea.